As class sizes shrink, teacher bemoan cuts

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With the budget posed to be even tighter next school year, Superintendent Karen Garza has released a proposal that will increase the minimum class size by one student at the high school level. With course selections finalized, staffing at LB may change as a result of the new proposal.

“At a minimum, we will staff all of our classes at 30.5 students,” principal Dave Thomas said. “Then there are variations with that; P.E. classes are generally staffed a bit bigger.”

The older requirement for class size was 29.5 students per class in order for the class to run. The half student is a result of how the statistics are rounded. The increase by one student may not seem like much but can cause shifts for classes where 30-31 students signed up. Advanced academics classes are generally staffed higher than regular classes.  Advanced Academics classes usually pertain to middle school elevated learning classes.

“Some advanced academic programs are staffed at 33 kids per class,” Thomas said.

Course tallies from selection forms are taken and put into “sections” or groups of students and classes. A larger class size results in fewer sections and fewer sections result in less teachers.

The amount of students in each room is also a concern as not all rooms can accommodate the extra students. This way the school district can save money by eliminating teaching positions by making classes tighter. The amount of students that can fit in a room vary by class type and room size.

“I have been in classes with 32 students and have the advantage of having a nice large classroom,” English teacher Patricia Rice said. “Most of the classrooms at Lake Braddock are not set up for 30 kids.”

Rice’s debate class was also cut this year due to the lack of students who signed up for the class.

“Chris Donlon, a former student of mine, just came back and said that my debate class was the class that taught him college writing,” Rice said. “I’m sorry that I don’t get to teach debate; I missed it this year.”

Rice said she feels sorry for the students who can’t have her debate class this year because of the lack of students who signed up for it.

“It would be wonderful to have really small classes of kids, but that’s not affordable,” Rice said. “But 30 kids in a debate class; I can’t get through my curriculum.”

The decision of how many teaching positions will be eliminated will be determined towards the end of April.

“At the end of April, we will go through the staffing with human resources,” Thomas said. “At that point we’ll tell them what we have, and we’ll give them an estimate of what we’re going to need in the way of teachers, and then we’ll start that process of matching up our teachers with our sections.”

With the new class size increase, some teachers are worried about the security of their jobs while others learn to deal with a larger class. Until staffing is finalized in late April, the fate of some instructors is yet unclear.

Even though staffing is finalized in April, things can still change due to students who move over the summer or other last minute changes within the sections. In August, course selections are reevaluated and teachers can be hired or eliminated at the last minute before the start of the school year.

“It hasn’t happened in years that we’ve had to let teachers go, but in general we’re adding sections to meet with the demands of kids,” Thomas said.

Every year, the hiring and firing of LB teachers is based off of the course selection forms that students complete. Recently, Superintendent Karen Garza has sent out a proposal that will increase the minimum class size by one student at the high school level. With course selections finalized, staffing at LB may change as a result of the new proposal.

“At a minimum, we will staff all of our classes at 30.5 students,” principal Dave Thomas said. “Then there are variations with that; P.E. classes are generally staffed a bit bigger.”

The older requirement for class size was 29.5 students per class in order for the class to run. The half student is a result of how the statistics are rounded. The increase by one student may not seem like much but can cause shifts for classes that very close to 30-31 students signed up for. Advanced Academics classes are generally staffed higher than regular classes. P.E. classes are staffed higher due to the larger amount of space available in P.E. classrooms.

“Some Advanced Academic programs are staffed at 33 kids per class,” Thomas said.

Course tallies from selection forms are taken and put into “sections” or groups of students and classes. A larger class size would results in fewer sections and fewer sections would result in less teachers. The amount of students in each room is also a concern as not all rooms can accommodate the extra students. The amount of students that can fit in a room vary by class type and room size.

“I have been in classes with 32 students and have the advantage of having a nice large classroom,” English teacher Patricia Rice said. “Most of the classrooms at Lake Braddock are not set up for 30 kids.”

Rice’s debate class was also cut this year due to the lack of students who signed up for the class.

“Chris Donlon, a former student of mine, just came back and said that my debate class was the class that taught him college writing,” Rice said. “I’m sorry that I don’t get to teach debate; I missed it this year.”

Rice feels sorry for the students who can’t have her debate class this year because of the lack of students who signed up for it.

“It would be wonderful to have really small classes of kids, but that’s not affordable,” Rice said. “But 30 kids in a debate class; I can’t get through my curriculum.”

The decision of how many teaching positions will be eliminated will be determined towards the end of April.

“At the end of April, we will go through the staffing with human resources,” Thomas said. “At that point we’ll tell them what we have and we’ll give them an estimate of what we’re going to need in the way of teachers and then we’ll start that process of matching up our teachers with our sections.”